Bosa truly is No. 1

If one were to look at Jane and Michael Stern’s seminal Roadfood, which provides information about the best places to eat on America’s back roads, byways and, to a lesser extent, city streets, the takeaway would probably be that most restaurants are known for doing only a couple of things well.

That happens to be the case at Pho BOSA, where the specialty is broken rice lunch plates, a staple of casual Vietnamese restaurants in both Asia and Orange County’s Little Saigon. A broken rice plate isn’t a broken plate, but rather a plate piled high with rice that has been shattered in dry form, and later steamed simply. The result: softer, more absorbent grains, the better to soak up the flavors of the many dishes surrounding them.

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Pho BOSA - Boffo Vietnamese

It’s tempting to call Pho BOSA the best Vietnamese restaurant in town.

So we’ll just say it: Pho BOSA is the best Vietnamese restaurant in town.

On this, Slapsy Maxsy Jacobson and I agree.

Unlike many Vietnamese places, it’s not too big and the menu is mercifully short. Even more mercifully, the same old, same old pho is not the focus.

What this place is about is com tam — the extravagantly-adorned broken rice dishes of Vietnam.

That dry rice is cracked by hand every day before going into the com dishes — most of which are overlaid with various grilled meats or shrimp. Or something called a shrimp cake, that is sort of a large, round two-inch thick omelet of crab and shrimp bits held together by eggs, then cut into wedges or squares and scattered about the rice or soups on the menu.

But before you get to them, you’ll have to have an order of either nem nuong cuon (bbq pork) or chao tom (shrimp) spring rolls — containing as they do soft, crunchy, fresh and savory flavors of the sticky rice paper, the flaky pastry, and the main ingredient all tightly wrapped around cooked rice vermicelli noodles. They are the ne plus ultra of this dish (in this town anyway), and put any others you’ve had to shame with their size, their construction, and their taste.

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